Well, OK, not one a day. Maybe one a week? Well, let's say at least two a month. Resources are plentiful even if they aren't all my own. The WetCanvas site has several on-going monthly "challenges", including some opportunities to copy the Masters.
Here's my entry in the November Monthly Portrait Challenge at the WetCanvas Portraiture forum.
Oil on canvas panel, acrylic gesso. 9x12
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
|As I was going though old pictures, it dawned on me that I have quite a few of my easel set up at various|
spots for plein air sessions. Here are a just a few of the spots where I've enjoyed painting outside.
|Near Shingle Springs, CA|
|Bodega Bay, CA|
|Near Shingle Springs, CA|
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I decided not to attempt to copy the entire work, so I selected a 16" x 12" linen panel to attempt just the head and shoulders. I sketched directly on the untoned canvas with a small brush.
Using just a few colors I tried to cover all of the white canvas as soon as possible. This is only the second painting I've done on linen with an oil based gesso and I'm beginning to like the feel a lot. My initial reaction was not good...it felt so different from the acrylic gessoed cotton canvases I am used to...but now I am definately enjoying the way the paint lays a little more on the surface. It's easy to manipulate with brush, rag and finger.
Up to this point, I've been using an 8 x 10 print from my home printer, which isn't the best. The quality is mediocre. I'm going to try to paint from the laptop screen for the next phase. The colors are so much more vivid when viewing a high resolution print on the computer screen, and the details show much more clearly.
At this session of about 2 hours, I worked quite a bit on the background, putting in the tapistry patterns and trying to find the right values. I noticed that Godward lightened the background in a few spots near the head. It's most noticeable at the bridge of the nose. This is a technique that Rockwell used many years later and it imparts a kind of glow - a halo effect - that is striking. I'm going to remember that little 'trick'.
I wanted to work on the face too, but attempts to do some glazing and opague passages resulted in lifting the earlier layer. It was obviously not completely dry. I'm going to let this rest for at least three or four days before the next, and maybe final, session.
Some final glazes and I am done. "Classic Beauty" by John William Godward.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
"Irene" is yet another of Adolf William Bouguereau's stunning works. Oil on canvas, 1897 18 x 15 inches (46 x 38.1 cm) You can find a high resolution photo, and even order a quality print, at the Art Renewal Center (ARC) here http://www.artrenewal.org/asp/database/image.asp?id=4857&hires=1
I discovered it in the Masters in Oil (MIO) October thread on WetCanvas. They post a new masterwork each month for the members to copy. I've tried to copy a Bouguereau painting once before, so I am aware that it's pretty much folly. It would take a lifetime of study to even begin to understand how one manages to capture such subtly and light. But I also know there's nothing quite as eye opening as attempting to copy a masterwork. It's a time honored assignment for art students. So, with that in mind, I did the sketch and first block in the first two evenings.
I spent a little time trying to do a preliminary sketch in pencil on the linen canvas. I don't usually do that, preferring to sketch directly with the brush. I though I'd use the pencil to make a more careful start, but not sure it made a real difference. How did he ever get those exquisite features...and that bump in the nose????
The next evening, using primarily Burnt Sienna, white and a purple (all Utrecht brand oils) I blocked in the painting pretty quickly. I wasn't going for a traditional underpainting although I had considered that before starting. This was just a quick 'laying in" with a limited pallette. After finishing the block in I realized that I have the head shifted to the right relative to the original. (The canvas I am painting on is smaller but proportionally correct to the original size (the blue tape marks the lower boundary of the proportionally correct area). I considered wiping it out, but after thinking about it overnight, I decided to push on as is. It isn't really critical...the real challenge is the face....that's what I really need to worrying about. So here are my first two steps in trying to capture another of Mr. Bouguereau's incredible paintings. Talk about attempting the impossible!
During the next two session, I contined bringing out the face and neck areas using glazing and scumbling and finger wiping and whatever else I could think of. How in the world did Bouguereau get those incredible flesh tones and subtle transitions??
And here's the original painting once more. It helps to be reminded of how far there is to go!